The Importance of Awe
...and why we seriously need to look for ways to experience it!
The advancement of today’s digital age keeps trying to mimic the natural, while zoning on the personal, doesn’t it? The Metaverse being an imaginative place to live your daily life however you want; pornography giving the false promise of intimacy based on your own preferences and desires, social media having the tendency to make you feel seemingly more connected with others, even when it’s just sending hearts via double taps.
The digital counterparts have taken over our lives, and truth be told, the convenience and instantness of their quick-fix comfort is what has lured humanity in for decades. But as we see the negative effects of these pixelated, me-centered technologies to our psychology and physiology (this is why we need a regular dopamine detox), there’s one important human experience we take for granted, and even sometimes overlook.
I was listening to a talk by Jen Wilkin, a bible teacher from The Village Church in Houston, Texas, when she touched on a very simple but important subject that left me dumbfounded—the importance of awe.
WHAT IS IT?
Awe is an intense feeling of admiration, respect, wonder, and reverence that is often evoked by something grand, powerful, beautiful, or mysterious. It can be experienced in response to a wide range of stimuli, such as natural wonders like a beautiful sunset, a majestic mountain range, or a starry night sky; human achievements like great works of art, architecture, or music; or spiritual experiences like a religious ceremony or a moment of transcendence. Awe is often characterized by a sense of humility and a feeling of being small in the face of something vast and awe-inspiring, as well as a feeling of being connected to something larger than oneself. It can be a transformative and uplifting experience that has a profound impact on our thoughts, emotions, and behavior.
THE BENEFITS OF AWE:
According to the University of Berkley, the sense of awe has several, positive, and impactful effects in our personhood.
- Increased feelings of connectedness: Awe can make us feel more connected to others and the world around us. It can help us appreciate the beauty and interconnectedness of nature and the universe, leading to a sense of unity and oneness with everything. This is why we see groups of people bond together when we awe at the same things.
- Reduced stress: Experiencing awe can help reduce stress and improve overall well-being. It can give us a break from our everyday worries and concerns, allowing us to experience a sense of calm and relaxation. It makes us pause, reflect, and appreciate life’s simple joys.
- Improved creativity: Awe can stimulate our imagination and inspire creativity. It can help us think outside the box and come up with new ideas and solutions to problems. The great artist, Leonardo Da Vinci, would often immerse himself in nature and people-watch as he drew inspiration for his biggest masterpieces.
- Increased prosocial behavior: Awe can make us more generous, compassionate, and helpful towards others. It can inspire us to engage in acts of kindness and generosity, leading to a sense of community and social connection.
- Enhanced sense of meaning and purpose: Experiencing awe can help us reflect on our values and beliefs, and can give us a sense of purpose and meaning in life. It can help us connect with something larger than ourselves, such as nature, art, or spirituality. Many times, whenever I look at the beauty of a sunset, I can’t help but be reminded that there has to be a Master Artist for all that happens when a day comes to an end; that there is a True Creator who has intelligently designed the universe for its grandiosity, function, and purpose, for our awe and delight.
The age of the Internet may be warring with the genuine and authentic versions of the natural, but we have the power and agency to navigate through it with control and moderation. This is not to discount the fact that the digital age have brought about many breakthroughs for humanity, but if not properly consumed, it will flip on its back turn against us. Life is meant to be lived presently and mindfully, and not by getting second-hand awe from the pixels on a screen.
May we all be reminded to be still, unplug, look around us, and find something to be in awe of. We may be surprised to find it in the mundane, and the effects of doing so will be absolutely priceless. From time to time, it’s tremendously beneficial to take the spotlight away from us.